Code of Hammurabi 3C3

Name: ____________________________________ Period: ____________ Date: ______________
The Code of Hammurabi
Directions: Read the following laws from the Code of the Hammurabi and discuss
them with your partner. Answer the questions which follow in one or more complete
sentences. Be sure to restate the question in the answer.
1. Let’s say a fire breaks out in a house. A man comes to help put out
the fire, but then steals the property of the owners of the house.
That man is considered a thief and will be put to death by burning.
2. Let’s say a man owes a debt for a loan, but his crops fail. He does
not have to pay back the grain he owes, his debt will be cancelled,
and he will pay no rent on his land for a year.
3. If a son attacks his father, his hands will be cut off.
4. If a man puts out the eye of another man of equal rank to his own,
his eye will be put out as punishment.
5. If a man puts out the eye of another man of lesser rank, he will pay
one gold mina to the injured man for his loss.
6. Let’s say a man hits a free-born woman who is pregnant. If she
loses her unborn child because of her injuries, he shall pay her ten
shekels1 of silver for her loss.
7. Let’s say a man hits a free-born woman, and she dies. His daughter
shall be put to death as punishment.
8. Let’s say a builder builds a house for someone, but he doesn’t
construct it properly. If the house falls in and kills its owner, the
builder shall be put to death.
9. Let’s say a man buys an ox from another man’s son or slave. If he
can’t show the court a receipt proving he bought the ox, he will be
considered a thief and be put to death.
10. Let’s say a man accuses another of a capital offense.2 If the
accuser can’t prove the charge, then he shall be put to death.
“…shekels…” A shekel is a standard weight from the Babylonian Empire. In Hammurabi’s
day, the price for a grown male slave was 20 shekels of silver.
A capital offense is any crime which carries the death penalty if a person is found guilty of
Assignment 3C3 Updated 2011
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A. Do all of these laws cover crime? What other sorts of human
activity do these laws cover?
B. Many scholars would say that the basis for punishment in
Hammurabi’s criminal code is that of equal retribution. Looking at
the punishments for these crimes, what would you say “equal
retribution” is?
C. Did the Code of Hammurabi protect everyone in society equally?
Why do you say this?
D. Would you want to live under a system of laws like this? Why or
why not?
Assignment 3C3 Updated 2011
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